Customers go ethical as Oxfam high street shops’ Christmas sales ring up an eight-year high

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Oxfam shops bucked the high street slump with in-store Christmas sales climbing by seven per cent, as shoppers sought ethical and second-hand products that protect the planet and raise money for the world’s poorest people.

High street sales in the week before Christmas (15-21 December) were the highest since 2011, and sales of donated items on the Oxfam Online Shop during the nine-week festive trading period rose by 11 per cent. Overall, this Christmas marked Oxfam’s best performance in eight years.

In a challenging year for retailers, Oxfam’s total sales over the period exceeded £19.3 million. This represents a seven per cent increase on the same time in 2018, and a five per cent rise like-for-like, which means an extra £1.28 million was raised for Oxfam’s work. That is enough to provide clean water for more than 1.2 million people in an emergency.

The growth of sales comes at a welcome time for Oxfam as charities face a challenging funding environment.

Sourced by Oxfam, its range of ethically sourced and sustainable new products helped drive the growth. Sales of the range in high street shops rose by 13 per cent, as shoppers snapped up of-the-moment Christmas decorations such as a felt avocado and dinosaurs crafted from recycled saris.  The move towards anti-plastic and environmentally friendly products continued, with strong demand for recycled gift wrap and non-plastic containing crackers. Cracker sales shot up by 55 per cent.  Freshly designed re-useable bamboo coffee cups, lunch boxes and beeswax food wraps were particularly sought after.

Sequins, velvet, and cashmere were top search terms on the Oxfam Online Shop, which saw the number of items of womenswear sold rise by 10 per cent, reflecting the increased popularity of sustainable fashion and the desire to shop for second-hand.

Leather jackets, scarves, first edition books and cameras were also particularly in demand on the Oxfam Online Shop, which saw an impressive Black Friday performance with sales jumping by 15 per cent.

Those who chose to shop in the charity’s bricks and mortar shops typically bought two items worth a total of £6.96, demonstrating Oxfam’s position as an affordable choice for shoppers.

Andrew Horton, Oxfam’s Trading Director said: “Shoppers are more and more discerning, thinking carefully about how they spend their money. Oxfam offers an affordable, ethical and sustainable alternative to other outlets. Our products are good quality and do good too.

“This Christmas sales performance is an encouraging sign that the public loves getting quality, ethical products at fair prices and that our stores are places people enjoy popping into. They are important parts of their local communities. The welcoming atmosphere is largely thanks to our staff and 20,000 inspiring volunteers who worked so hard over the festive period. A huge thank you to every one of them and to shoppers who help Oxfam fight poverty and make the world a fairer, kinder and safer place for us all.

“The money raised will help us to achieve life-saving and life-improving change – from providing communities with clean water and sanitation, to helping people we work with earn a fair wage in decent conditions or cope with the devastating effects of climate change.

“With Christmas being successful, we desperately need more donations of good quality clothing and homeware to help us raise more money to do good. We rely on the generosity of the British public and donations are crucial and extremely appreciated by us.”

Chris Heap, 53, who volunteered at the Oxfam superstore in Oxford said: “Being surrounded by all the Christmas sounds and chatter is a good feeling. It’s a nice vibe and we want to help each other.

“There’s lots of different people who come into Oxfam shops.  They serve the community because some people can’t afford high street prices. You can find lovely bargains which make Christmas special. There’s something for everyone.”

Like many Oxfam volunteers, Chris benefitted from the experience and encourages everyone to consider volunteering too. “You soon realise there is an Oxfam community of people who are like-minded. It’s helped me relax and be more confident. People here work hard, and it’s lovely, they are giving their free time happily, which is really precious.”

Oxfam is asking people to join their local shop team. Just one shift once a week will help raise crucial funds for Oxfam’s work coming to the aid of people living in poverty across the globe. On average volunteers give four hours of their time per week, and shifts can be flexible.

Notes to Editors:

  • All sales figures are for the nine-week Christmas Trading period from 27 October to 28 December compared to the same weeks in 2018.
  • The proceeds of sales from the Oxfam Online Shop and high street shops support the charity’s work to end the injustice of poverty around the world.
  • Oxfam has 601 high street shops across the UK, supported by a workforce of more than 20,000 volunteers, selling donated fashion, books, music, homewares and the Sourced By Oxfam range of ethically sourced new products. Seventeen new shops opened in the past 18 months, including the fantastic Oxford superstore.
  • Chris Heap volunteered in the Oxfam superstore in Oxford until mid-December, when he secured a staff position.
  • Our unique Sourced By Oxfam range of ethically sourced brand-new products are carefully selected by our team of buyers who search for pioneering suppliers who put people before profit and produce quality products with the emphasis on small-scale production and sustainable materials. The range is available on Oxfam Online Shop and in selected high street shops.
  • Oxfam launched the UK’s first online charity shop in 2007. This was the twelfth Christmas since the launch of Oxfam Online Shop, the UK’s biggest charity shop with thousands of unique treasures all in one place, from the Oxfam Unwrapped range of charity gifts to the Sourced By Oxfam range of ethically sourced new products and more than 170,000 unique second-hand items. There are more than 94,000 books, more than 33,000 women’s clothing and accessories items, 24,000 music products, films and video games and 3,000 items of homewares and collectables. Over 400 Oxfam shops across the country upload new items to the site every day, and volunteers at two central hubs, based in Milton Keynes and Batley, Yorkshire, upload thousands of new items a week.
  • Oxfam is a global movement of people all working towards the same goal – an end to the injustice of poverty. Together we save and rebuild lives in disasters, help people earn a living, and speak out on the big issues, like inequality and climate change, that keep people poor. And we won’t stop until we get there. Join us!

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